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Libraries are crowdfunding an open access collection of American prison newspapers.

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May 28, 2021, 1:24pm

Here’s an incredible archival project you might not know about: Reveal Digital is partnering with academic and public libraries to fund an expanding, open access collection of American prison newspapers. “American Prison Newspapers, 1800-2020: Voices From The Inside” is collecting and digitizing over 350 prison publications, starting with two of the first publications, Forlorn Hope and Supporter from 1800, and extending to the present.

By 1935, around half of state and federal penal institutions had an active prisoner press, but today, only a fraction of newspapers remain in print. Preserving and aggregating prison publications is critical to understanding the history and current conditions of prisons and prison life; necessarily, writing by inmates holds information and histories that outside journalism can’t (and often won’t) report. Some participating libraries are providing funding to cover publishing costs; some are opening their archives to digitize relevant source material.

Libraries interested in participating in the project will receive benefits and can get in touch with Reveal Digital. The collection is currently accessible via JSTOR.

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